By Pete Zamplas
Hendersonville Police honored their own for standout service, including officer Cameron Singleton for recently saving a man from a heart attack, in an annual awards ceremony.
Lt. Jimmy Case was suddenly gone and mourned, merely two weeks after received the supervisor award for 2018 at that banquet March 27. Case died on April 11, at age 57. This was the third time he received the Bill Powers Leadership Award, for police supervisors.
The lifelong HendersonCounty resident, a 1981 East Henderson grad, served the county since his mid-teen years. He was a Blue Ridge fire volunteer in 1977-84, then a local law officer starting 35 years ago. He rose through ranks first for the sheriff, in 1984-94 and later in city police where he started in 1999. Case was a police SWAT Team member, hostage negotiator, K-9 officer with canine partner Zoro, motorcycle officer, and Alive @ 25 instructor.
“Highly decorated and respected officer” is how Police Chief Herbert Blake and others describe Lt. Case. He was an avid deer hunter. In his obit, family stated “Jimmy loved life and making people laugh.”
A memorial area for Lt. Case is in City Hall’s first-floor lobby. His funeral was Tuesday.
Friends and family are raising money for his widow, Kris, for her ongoing medical needs. Donations can go to a medical fund via PayPal (email@example.com), or in person to Melissa Justus during business hours in the chief’s office of the police station at King Street and Sixth Avenue.
The awards banquet was in Bay Breeze Restaurant. “This is a great department, and it’s a credit to all of you,” said the featured speaker, District Attorney Greg Newman. “You take your job seriously. You take your training seriously.”
Most awards were for all of 2018. They include Nathan Smith (Detective), Colby Allman (Officer), Austin Putnam (Rookie), and Team: Team 2 of Lt. Dale Patton, Sgt. Bruce Darrah, and Officers Michele Hoyle, Zeffrey Childress and Adalberto Morales.
Other recipients include Melissa Justus (Office Personnel), Tiffany Henderson (Telecommunicator), Olivia Orr (Reserve Employee), and Julia Alston (School Crossing Guard)
Officer Cameron Singleton earned the 2019 Lifesaving Award. He told The Tribune that “helping people is the satisfaction,” far more than an award.
He saved a man’s life on the streets on Sunday, Feb. 24, in the middle of the day. He answered a 911 call to Tom’s Hill Drive, off Kanuga. He happened to be a mere half-mile away in his patrol car, at Main and Caswell in Downtown Hendersonville, and he arrived in a “minute or two” as first on the scene.
He described the victim as a middle-aged man. “He was out on the street. The vehicle’s passenger door was open. The man was on the ground, in cardiac arrest. A female observer had one arm in a sling. She was trying chest compression. I took over, and did chest compression for a few minutes.” He said he felt adrenalin, during this life-or-death time.
Eventually the victim was “starting to show signs he possibly would be alert. But I’m not a paramedic.” By then, a rescue unit was on scene and shocked the man with a defibrillator. Then “he was responsive,” and was transported to a hospital. Singleton said he found out the man had recently sustained another heart attack, or a stroke. “Thankfully, he pulled through — due to the shock and (my) CPR” compression.
Singleton, 24, a 2013 West Henderson grad, trained in basic law enforcement at Blue Ridge Community College. He has worked on the force since June of 2016. When he was a Rugby Middle student, the resource officer there was a role model for him. “He was great. He’d sit down and talk with you.”
He watches the new ABC drama series “The Rookie,” starring Nathan Fillion (formerly “Castle”) as an elder rookie officer. “They show community policing. Officers show empathy. They help out a person having a bad day.”
Above all, “we’re problem-solvers, for the community. When people are having an issue or problem, they call the police. We do our best, to solve the problem.”
He said “some people have come in (to HQ) and thanked me for answering their calls. That shows how great our Hendersonville community is. We have a lot of support for law enforcement.”
“The Rookie” is set in New York City. Here, “we’re not getting shot at every day, like they are,” Singleton said. “Sometimes, it’s high action here” and he has pursued suspects on foot and by car. “But often, nothing is going on as you patrol. Then you suddenly get a call, such as that man on the ground in cardiac arrest.”
Whereas there are two per car in that TV show, here there is one. “They caution you about running by yourself after someone — you could run into an ambush, around the corner. Then you’re dealing with six people.” In such a case, he will radio for help from colleagues.
Singleton said “our chief wants us to adapt” to each evolving situation.
Two retiring policemen were also honored at the banquet. There are Patrol Captain Bruce Simonds and Officer Jeff Tankersley. Simonds put in 30 years with city police. A bagpiper played in a ceremony honoring Simonds on March 29, his last day on the job.
Simonds at the banquet thanked colleagues who have “gotten me to where I am now.” He said the department “flourishes.”
Tankersley, a Hendersonville policeman since 2012, also has 30 years in total — including 10 years with Asheville Police, and 12 as a probation officer. He has worked as a field training officer.
He said of Hendersonville police, “the greatest memories I’ve had have been with you all.”
Photos of the award recipients can be viewed at https://www.hendersonvillenc.gov/annual-awards-ceremony-